R.I.P. Jocks

Let´s Be Civil

So these developers want to build another tower, right next door to the tower that a lot of rich people spent a lot of money to move into. This is literally in-your-face development, and the residents of Las Olas River House, that blue 42-story building that looms over the New River in Fort Lauderdale, were ready to push back. Tailpipe is talking about an ¨informational¨ meeting of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Civic Association the other day, at which plans for the new 27-story 100 East Las Olas were being discussed.

About 50 Las Olas River House residents, who stand to have their precious stratospheric views impeded by new construction, crashed the party in the seventh-floor conference room at the Las Olas Grand. It was not a pretty confrontation.

In the middle of an impassioned speech in which one River House resident called the development firm Tarragon ¨appalling¨ for its reticence about parking and traffic problems the proposed new building might cause, Tarragon Vice President Michael Dumala cracked a smile.

¨I´m going to wipe that smile off your face,¨ said a bearded man, dressed in a burnt-sienna button down.

Somebody else interrupted. He was here to hear a presentation on the new building, not the complaints of River House folks, he said.

¨Excuse me -- may I finish?¨ the angry man asked.

¨No, you´re done,¨ the would-be argument stifler replied. Then he repeated with emphasis: ¨You´re done.¨

No so fast. He wasn´tdone. ¨Who are you to say I´m done?¨ the angry man asked.

¨I´m me,¨ said the argument stifler, who was beginning to seem more like an argument stoker. ¨Are you going to mop the floor with me?¨

Nervous laughter from the crowd. Then Roberta Schecter, an elderly member of the civic association who was wearing sparkly earrings, spoke up.

¨Can we be civil about this?¨ she asked.

¨Let´s be civil,¨ one crowd member said. ¨Let´s be civil,¨ agreed another.

¨I was civil!¨ said somebody who was not directly involved but apparently felt persecuted.

The angry man still wasn´t done. ¨If you sit there with a smirk on your face,¨ he said to Dumala, ¨I´m going to get even more angry.¨

¨I am not sitting here with a smirk on my face,¨ said Dumala, struggling to contain his smirk, ¨and I apologize if it came across that way.¨

The president of the civic association called the meeting back to order, somebody called the angry man a prick, and the presentation continued.

The big question from the River House side: Why couldn´t the developers make the neighboring building a little less hulking, a little less damaging to River House property values?

Tailpipe is not sure where this is heading. Will well-to-do tenants who bought apartments based on their sweeping views of the New River and the Atlantic convince city planners that the plan is truly appalling? Or will developers, propelled by the prerogatives of ownership, prevail? Quién sabe? All this emissions-venting cylinder knows is that, when it comes to property rights, the veneer of ¨civility¨ can be as fragile as that of a street brawl.

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